The Future of America Could Be Totalitarian
In 1967 I predicted that America was in more danger of fascism than communism. Turns out, I was right.
It was 1967. Rebellion was in the air. Our youthful voices needed to be heard. And so my friend Dave and I created an underground newspaper for our junior high school. We would stick it to the Man and the lackeys at the establishment student newspaper. Power to the People!
Okay so it wasn’t all that radical or underground. My dad was on the town Board of Education and we had a faculty adviser. Nonetheless, we caused some controversy.
I wish had a copy to find out exactly what I wrote about communism and fascism. Whatever it was, more than one teacher approached me wanting to know if I really believed what I said. Apparently I argued that the United States was in little danger of becoming communist. We could, however, turn fascist. The teachers for whom World War II was a recent memory were shocked.
No, no, I said. We were democratic. We’ll be fine. They were relieved, but I was wrong.
The Lust to Rule in Modern America
In his biography of Winston Churchill, military historian John Keegan notes that Churchill understood that all totalitarianism finds a fertile seedbed in cultures marked by resentment.
It wasn’t that workers in Tsarist Russia or Germany post-World War I didn’t have legitimate grievances. They did. The trouble came when those just grievances were transformed into angry resentments. The call for change became a demand that “the wicked” — the rich, the kulaks, the priests, the Jews, the Poles, the educated, and other “enemies” — must pay and pay dearly.
The American Revolution, undergirded with Judeo-Christian values, lacked that kind of resentment. The French, Russian and Chinese Revolutions along with Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany were entirely secular. They were thick with resentment. That justified the brutal use of power, purges, prison camps, torture and rivers of blood.
Augustine of Hippo in City of God wrote that the city of God is ruled by love. It’s perfect in Heaven though imperfect on earth. By contrast “the earthly city … is itself ruled by its lust to rule.”
That “lust to rule” is the totalitarian impulse. It runs through every human heart: “My way … or else.” The accompanying disdain and resentment, unchecked by the love and forgiveness of the Gospel, ruins everything.
We all experience that destructive power in our personal lives. It’s far more destructive and dangerous when these define a culture.
And our culture is becoming increasingly resentful, demanding and tyrannical.
Totalitarianism, Here We Come
Ryan Anderson of The Heritage Foundation illustrates this in his article “The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty”. “Rolling Stone,” he notes, “just profiled the LGBT activist Tim Gill, who has pledged his $500 million fortune to passing SOGI [sexual orientation and gender identity] laws that will, in his words, ‘punish the wicked.’”
“The wicked” are those with a traditional view of sexuality and marriage. Christians seem to top the list.
With that in mind, consider the power of our vast and largely unaccountable administrative state. Consider that while we have freedom of the press, it doesn’t matter. Most of the media march in lockstep and happily condemn “the wicked.” There’s freedom to say otherwise, but not enough who exercise that freedom.
The internal culture and policies of Google and other corporations have been exposed. They preach diversity while allowing precious little. Professional associations and licensing agencies force compliance to their political and social agendas. Accreditation organizations have at least threatened to do the same with colleges and universities. Ask the people at Gordon College what it feels like to have that hanging over your head.
Student demands on campuses are powered by resentment. They are also fundamentally totalitarian. Discussion and debate have no place in a world where shouting and expletives win. As administrators give in, they inadvertently — if it is inadvertently — endorse student demands and methods. Campuses have become as Hoover Institution scholar Peter Berkowitz writes, “breeding grounds, training camps, and launching pads in the campaign to curtail liberty of thought and discussion.” And these young totalitarians will sooner or later graduate.
So my seventh-grade insight that the U.S. will not succumb to communism despite far too many people who feel compelled to defend it was correct.
What about a totalitarianism where the government controls pretty much everything and a single shared culture is ruthlessly enforced? With apologies to my junior high teachers, we’re well on our way.